General Mills group to improve food processing in Africa

by World Grain Staff
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MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA, U.S. — General Mills announced on March 16 the launch of Partners in Food Solutions as a hunger-fighting nonprofit bringing food production and food processing expertise to small- and medium-sized food processors in African nations.

Robert Nyirenda, owner, Nyirefami Grains Ltd., Tanzania, with Peter Erickson, senior vice- president, innovation, technology and quality, General Mills. Partners in Food Solutions assisted with installation of a quality control lab and improvements to washing and pre-drying operations. The company’s flour-milling capacity rose from one tonne per day to five, and its farmer-suppliers were able to build a health center

“The need for sustainable food production is central to combating hunger in Africa,” said Ken Powell, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO), General Mills. “General Mills has deep food processing expertise and the technical leadership skills necessary to transfer critical knowledge to food processors in Africa, who can then produce more food and feed more African people. Local food processors can then source more ingredients from local small-holder farmers, many of them women, creating an important and stable outlet for their crops.”

“General Mills has been piloting this effort for more than two years, and we know we can help,” said Powell. “Through Partners in Food Solutions, General Mills will be able to reach out to additional partners from across the food industry. The need is critical, and we know our industry can make a transformative difference.”

General Mills developed Partners in Food Solutions as an employee volunteer initiative in 2009. Hundreds of General Mills employees volunteered to help African food processors and producers solve technical and quality challenges over the last two years, working on dozens of food technology initiatives in Africa.

Expanding rapidly with new African partners, increased volunteer support, funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and new corporate partners Cargill and DSM, Partners in Food Solutions continues to expand its reach by enlisting more partners with additional capabilities to help advance the effort. General Mills’ move to create the new standalone nonprofit will grow the program by enabling new corporate partners to increase the scale of Partners in Food Solutions’ efforts.

“Cargill is pleased to join General Mills and Partners in Food Solutions to help alleviate hunger in Africa. For Cargill employees, this is a unique opportunity to put our knowledge to work to improve the food supply chain, increase food security and in the process, change lives,” said Greg Page, Cargill chairman and CEO. “Partnerships to address food security can be a powerful force, and our participation in Partners in Food Solutions further demonstrates our commitment to ensuring all people have access to safe, nutritious and affordable food.”

"We look forward to working closely with General Mills and Partners in Food Solutions to reach out to the people that need our help urgently,” said Feike Sijbesma, CEO and chairman of the managing board of Royal DSM. “DSM has been playing an active role in the fight against micronutrient deficiencies for many years. DSM employees have been contributing their scientific know-how and technical expertise to help improve the nutritional status of people in need. Partners in Food Solutions gives us the opportunity to accelerate progress in very tangible ways, working with an impressive line-up of partners to help improve the manufacturing of nutritious foods at the local level in key countries. Combining the skills and technologies of these partners allows us to combat hunger and malnutrition to create brighter lives."
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